Parental Stress in Families of Children with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities

Maria D.R. Valicenti-McDermott, Katharine R. Lawson, Kathryn Hottinger, Rosa Seijo, Merryl A. Schechtman, Lisa H. Shulman, Shlomo Shinnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations


The level of parental stress in families of children with autism and other developmental disabilities and its association with child comorbid symptoms was studied in an ethnically diverse population, in a cross-sectional study with structured interview. The sample included 50 families of children with autism and 50 families of children with other developmental disabilities, matched by age/gender. Interview included Parenting Stress Index-Short Form, Gastrointestinal Questionnaire, Child Sleep Habits Questionnaire, and Aberrant Behavior Checklist. In this ethnically diverse sample, parental stress was significantly higher for the autism group and for non-Hispanic and US-born mothers. In both study groups, parental stress was related to child irritability. Parental stress was also related to gastrointestinal problems in the autism group and to sleep difficulties in the developmental disabilities group. Targeting child irritability may be particularly important in reducing parental stress for families of children with autism and other developmental disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1728-1735
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Child Neurology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 1 2015



  • autism spectrum disorder
  • children
  • developmental disabilities
  • irritability
  • parental stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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